Blue Whale Project
Blue whales are the largest animals on earth! They are 3 times larger than the largest dinosaur, their tongues alone can weigh as much as an elephant, and their hearts are the size of a small automobile. They can grow to more than 100 feet long and weigh upwards of 200 tons. So when a 73-foot blue whale suffered a lethal strike by a ship’s propeller and washed up in a finger cove near Fort Bragg in the fall of 2009, the heartache was felt deeply by our community. Seeing this majestic whale on our shore brought our community together.
The Story of Recovery
The very first pictures of the blue whale onshore propelled this community into action. In an unprecedented event, students and scientists, parents and grandparents, business owners and workers, all walked away from their normal lives and over a week’s time, hauled 70 tons of bones and blubber up a 40-foot cliff to recover the skeleton for display in Fort Bragg. Working with NOAA, the City of Fort Bragg was given the rights to use the whale bones for educational purposes.
The Conservation Fund generously offered their property in the Big River watershed as a burial site for the whale bones, and watched over the site for 4 years. In May of 2013, once again, volunteers, high school and college students were given a rare educational opportunity as the bones were collected. And the bugs had done their work, mostly! The bones were then washed, scrubbed and cataloged.
The bones are now in storage while funds are being raised to continue the restoration of the blue whale skeleton. The next phase of the restoration process will be the removal of the oil from the bones. Following that, Noyo Center staff will work closely with local artists, engineers, scientists, and students to repair damage to the bones and determine the best way to articulate the skeleton.
Noyo Center staff launched an education program in 2014 to give as many people as possible hands-on access to the skeleton while it is on the ground. As staff and volunteers problem solve their way through the restoration process, people of all ages will develop the opportunity delight in exploration of this elusive creature, through Family Fun Days, Summer Science Camps, Discovery Days and scientific lectures. Please visit the Noyo Center website for updates on the Education program.